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Publication Title

Journal of Hospital Infection








Background: Despite adherence to standard protocols, residues including live microorganisms may remain on the various surfaces of reprocessed flexible endoscopes. Prions are infectious proteins notoriously difficult to eliminate.

Aim: We tested the potential of cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) for the decontamination of flexible endoscope various surfaces, measuring total proteins and prion-residual infectivity as an indicator of efficacy.

Methods: New PTFE endoscope channels and metal test surfaces spiked with test soil or prion-infected tissues were treated using different CAP-generating prototypes. Surfaces were then examined for the presence of residues using very sensitive fluorescence epi-microscopy. Prion residual infectivity was determined using the wire implant animal model and a new, more sensitive cell infectivity assay.

Findings: A CAP jet applied perpendicularly at close range on flat test surfaces removed soil within 3 minutes but left microscopic residues and failed to eliminate prion infectivity according to the wire implant animal assay. The longitudinal gas flow from CAP prototypes developed for the treatment of long channels led to the displacement and sedimentation of residual soil towards the distal end, when applied alone. Observations of the plasma inside glass tubes showed temporal and spatial heterogeneity within a limited range. After standard enzymatic manual pre-wash, "CAP-activated" gas effluents prevented prion transmission from treated endoscope channels according to our prion infectivity cell assay.

Conclusion: CAP shows promising results as a final step for surgical surfaces decontamination. Optimising CAP delivery could further enhance CAP efficacy, offering a safe, chemical-free alternative for the reprocessing of all luminal flexible endoscope surfaces.


© 2023 The Authors

This is an open access article under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License.

Original Publication Citation

Hervé, R. C., Kong, M. G., Bhatt, S., Comoy, E. E., Deslys, J. P., Secker, T. J., & Keevil, C. W. (2023). Evaluation of cold atmospheric plasma for the decontamination of flexible endoscopes. Journal of Hospital Infection, 136, 100-109.


0000-0001-8142-4726 (Kong), 0000-0002-8970-800X (Bhatt), 0000-0002-5766-0531 (Chen)